Tuesday, December 31, 2013

P.S. . . . .She Has Two First Names!

I had my first meeting with the plastic surgeon today.  She is responsible for the reconstruction phase of my mastectomy.

I'm very thankful to have found a Facebook support group for women who are going through this same experience.  In hearing their stories, problems, issues, and complications, it gave me a good set of questions going into today's appointment.

The PA (physician's assistant) met with me first.  She was very friendly and helpful in explaining the various methods of reconstruction.  She used a ladder analogy, with the most complicated reconstruction options at the top of the ladder.  She explained that if you start at the bottom of the ladder (no reconstruction at all), you can always move up the ladder later on.  She was able to answer many of the questions I had.  

The PS joined us, and we discussed the various types of implants and the look each would give.  They had samples for me to see and feel.  Luckily, I am a candidate for direct-to-implant which means that if there are no complications, I only need one surgery.  I was happy to hear their infection rate at Mayo Clinic is very low.

After discussing all the various choices of implants, I have decided on the Natrelle 410 silicone gel breast implants.  These are sometimes called gummy bear implants because of their consistency.  Choosing an implant type is the first decision (saline, silicone, gummy bear).  Then the profile is selected which determines how much projection is given with the implant.  The implant also has a shell option of being smooth or textured.  And last there is the volume, or fill amount.  The volume won't be determined until after my breast tissue is removed and weighed.  Then the PS will try to closely match the same size.  My head was spinning thinking about all the boob choices!

I had heard many women having pain from muscle spasms, as the implants and/or expanders are put behind the pectoral muscle.  I was relieved to find out that my PS uses botox in the muscle during surgery.  This helps the muscle to relax, and it lasts for a few weeks.

Another thing that made me happy was to find out that I can shower a couple of days after surgery.  There will be two drains, one on each side, that will stay in for a week to ten days.  I've heard this is the worst part of the surgery - dealing with the uncomfortable drains.  Some doctors don't want you showering until after the drains are removed.  I think I would die having to go 10 days without getting in the shower!

Ted was my note taker for the appointment, and I recommend having someone with you when you go to important appointments like this.  It is so easy to forget what was said, and he did a great job keeping track of all the information.

I will have one more meeting with the PS a week before the surgery.  The surgery is scheduled for February 18th.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tassels Not Included!

As part of the prep for my surgery, the surgeon wanted me to have a breast MRI.  I had a mammogram earlier this year that showed no problems, but an MRI shows a better picture of the breast tissue.

I've only had one previous MRI, and while it was not a terrible experience, it can freak you out if you have your eyes open.  So, today I was armed with my sleep mask, and a breathing technique given to me by a friend which helps you stay calm.  She told me to breathe in flowers and blow out the birthday candles.  It was a great way to focus and stay calm.  I imagined a flower for every letter of the alphabet!

To my surprise, a breast MRI is done laying face down.  So, I didn't need the sleep mask, and instead I pretended to be getting a back massage.  The little ditties in the picture were put in place as was an IV.    Part of the MRI includes getting a contrast put through the IV in order to show a better image.  I'm glad this ordeal didn't involve drinking nasty stuff!

As I went into the tunnel of doom, the tech told me to go to my happy place and to take her with me.  I told her we were going to Hawaii, and she said, Aloha, see you in about 35 minutes.

Thirty-five minutes is a long time to be laying on your stomach, arms over your head, and trying not to move.  I kept thinking that this procedure is so much easier than going to the dentist, so the time went by quickly.

They would like you to think that MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, but the real meaning is:

Machine Really Irritating

It's difficult to go to my happy place when it sounds like they are jack hammering on the beach! Earplugs helped somewhat, but it is a very noisy procedure!

Next up?  I see the plastic surgeon the end of December.  I was hoping the surgery could take place in January, but the two surgeons' schedules had to be coordinated, so it is scheduled for February.